Struggling with Melasma? These Powerful Antioxidants Can Help - Amandean

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November 26, 2019 8 min read

When it comes to skincare, it is safe to say that topical solutions, including lotions, serums, and face creams, represent the focal point in the routines of many people. However, as much as topical applications are recommended as an important element of skincare, conditions such as melasma require a much deeper approach -literally, since we’re targeting the very structure of the skin.

With that said, today we’re focusing on some pretty powerful supplements, includingglutathione andvitamin C, as well ascollagen hydrolysate, which can not only aid in the management of melasma, but also contribute to overall skin health and maintaining its youthful appearance. If you’d like to learn more about nourishing your skin from the inside-out, keep reading.

Defining Melasma

The best way to define melasma is to view it as apigmentation disorder,manifested through gray or brown patches mostly affecting the facial area. Besides the nose, upper lip, cheeks, and forehead, symptoms ofmelasma may also appear on other body parts, including shoulders and neck, as well as forearms.

While the exact cause of this skin condition is yet to be confirmed, it is believed thatmelasma is a direct consequence of excessivemelaninproduction. So, what exactly is melanin, which may cause these patches of coloration? Melanin acts as askin-protecting barrierin case of UV radiation, since it has been found to absorb and limit its damage. Besides acting as a photoprotective agent, melanin also hasantioxidant and free-radical-scavenging properties.

Why is it then that such a beneficial skin component as melanin is believed to trigger melasma? Well, the issue lies not in melanin itself, but rather in thequantity of melanin produced, sinceoverexposure to UV rays leads to excessive melanin production.

Therefore, the main hypothesis surrounding this skin condition is that the key factor in melasma development is indeedUV radiation whichinfluences melanin production. However,the list of the factors to blame doesn’t stop there, which makes melasma a far more complex issue. Awide range of these factorsincludes pregnancy, contraceptives, thyroid dysfunction, certain topical and cosmetic products, systemic medication, heavy metals, and of course - genetics.

When addressing the actualmanifestation of melasma, the first symptom that comes to mind is the appearance of colored patches. However, aside from epidermal pigmentation, certain cases of melasma also entail anextracellular matrix abnormality, such assolar elastosis, in 93% of cases.Solar elastosis is a well-known consequence of photoaging, triggering an excessive accumulation of elastic tissue. Furthermore, the fact that a photoaging-induced condition is often present in pathological cases of melasma goes to show thatprolonged sun exposure indeed is one of the root causes of skin abnormalities.

Prolonged Sun Exposure Affects Skin Health

The process of melasma development starts in the very structure of the skin, wherecollagen cells are degraded as a result of chronic UV exposure. The degradation of skin collagen further leads to a state commonly referred to asbasement membrane disruption, which triggers excessive production of melanin. Therefore, when it comes to long-term management of melasma, securing the basement membrane balance seems to be the primary concern.

Melasma Management

Given the complexity of this skin condition, it’s no wonder you’ve probably come across various approaches and strategies when it comes tomanaging melasma. Many of them focus on topical products like creams and serums that can be found at your local pharmacy.. This kind of approachwill mostly entail laser treatments, topical steroids and cryotherapy, as well as different types of topical acids including kojic, ascorbic, and glycolic acid, to name a few.

And while a topical treatment could yield positive results, today we’re concerned with a more in-depth, straight-to-the-point approach that targets the very core of this issue and works from the inside-out. Therefore, we’ll be discussing the role of antioxidants in the form of supplements when it comes to melasma management and skin health in general.

But before we dive into the role of supplementation in the management of this condition, it is worth noting that acombination of adequate topical products and all-natural supplements could be the best approach. This way,you’d be targeting the issue on both fronts.

The Role of Glutathione

Astudy conducted by Nagapan T.S. and colleagues suggests that UV radiation is linked to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may promote melanin production due to an increased level of oxidative stress. This is precisely where antioxidants, as ROS scavengers, come into play, preventing oxidative damage as well as theUV-promoted melanin production.

In the world of antioxidants,glutathione is known as themother of all antioxidants - regarded as the most powerful naturally produced antioxidant in the body. This low-molecular-weight antioxidant is consideredvital in the process of detoxification,cleansing the body from harmful components such as heavy metals, pollutants, and drugs. Due to its protective role, glutathione has been recognized as one of the main natural alternatives in melasma management. It is also important to mention the74th Annual American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Washington in 2016, when glutathione supplementation was proclaimed not only safe, but effective when it comes to melasma management.

E. B. Handdog and colleagues performed anopen-label, single-arm trial examining the efficacy oforal glutathione supplementation in skin whitening and melasma management. Namely, thirty female participants took glutathione supplementation every day for 8 consecutive weeks. After only two weeks, a significant decrease in melanin levels was noted.

And yet anotherstudy concerned with glutathione’s role in this skin issue confirmed its skin whitening effects. This study included 60 participants faced with the issue of melasma, some of whom received a daily 500mg dose of glutathione for 4 weeks. Similar results were noted in all participants who consumed oral glutathione - melanin indices were substantially reduced.

According to astudy focused on oral supplementation of glutathione, it’s been confirmed that there’s an ability of glutathione supplements to elevate natural levels, thus inhibiting melanin content in the skin. Accordingly,glutathione has been found to manage melanin deposition in the basal layer of skin, while also acting as a photoprotective agent, the aforementioned study concludes.

When it comes to itsanti-melanogenic effect,glutathione acts on a molecular level by either binding with tyrosinase (the most important enzyme in melanogenesis), combatting free radicals and peroxides, or inhibiting tyrosinase.

The Role of Vitamin C

Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the role of glutathione in skincare, but we’re quite positive that you have stumbled upon vitamin C skin serums and creams. Skin-loving benefits ofvitamin C were established long before the beauty industry escalated into what it is today, so it’s no wonder it has become one of the staples of skincare. And while we could dedicate the entire article solely to vitamin C benefits, especially concerning skin health, we’ll keep the focus on itsscientifically-backed potential in melasma management.

Vitamin C is yet another powerful antioxidant that, unlike glutathione, cannot be manufactured naturally - hence an even bigger necessity for supplementing. According to astudy conducted by N. Bagherani et al., vitamin C has been found to interact with both tyrosinase enzyme and copper ions, which represent the core issues of melasma. Furthermore,vitamin C has been known to combat free radicals, preserving skin quality, and reducing oxidative effects in melanin development.

What’s more, astudy conducted by H. Zhao finds vitamin C effects comparable to those of chemical treatments of melasma. In this study, there was no difference between the results of vitamin C versus tranexamic treatments, suggesting that supplementing with qualityLiposomal Vitamin C may be consideredas effective as expensive chemical skin treatments.

The Role of Collagen Hydrolysate

Even thoughcollagen is not an antioxidant, but a protein, it is still impossible not to mention it when discussing skin health. Collagen is thepivotal structural protein, largely present throughout the human body, including muscles, joints, tendons, bones, cartilage, and of course - skin. In fact,collagen accounts for an entire third of the total protein in mammals, astudy on fibrous proteins of the matrix suggests.

As far as collagen’s role in skin health is concerned, it regards skin hydration, elasticity, and texture, significantly decreasing wrinkles and improving skin resilience, astudy conducted by H. B. Pyun et al. states. When it comes tomelasma management in particular, we could say that the role of collagen is twofold.

Collagen has been found to play an important role in melasma management by helping the basement membrane (which have been compromised by UV radiation)regain optimal levels. By restoring the balance, collagen treatment potentiallydecreases the chance of melasma recurrence. On the other hand,all-natural collagen supplements have also been found toreduce the effects of photoaging, including wrinkling, laxity and thickening, as well as skin pigmentation.  

Moreover, collagen supplementation has also been shown tocombat other symptoms of UV radiation, including abnormal elastic formation. The way collagen influences skin structure is throughmaintaining its barrier bymanaging its hydration and recovering damaged collagen fibers.

As we’ve mentioned, melasma truly is a complex condition that may be influenced by a wide range of factors, including poor lifestyle choices and genetics. However, what lies at the core of melasma seems to be UV radiation, hence the mention of anti-photoaging, anti-melanogenic supplements in this article. Each of the aforementioned powerful supplements plays a remarkable role in melasma management, especially collagen, the oral consumption of whichhas been found to stimulate hyaluronic acid production, dermal cell proliferation, and collagen synthesis. For more all-natural supplements, make sure to visit ouronline store.

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Article References:

  1. Kwon, S., Hwang, Y., Lee, S., & Park, K. (2016). Heterogeneous Pathology of Melasma and Its Clinical Implications.International Journal Of Molecular Sciences,17(6), 824. doi: 10.3390/ijms17060824
  2. Vashi, N., & Kundu, R. (2013). Facial hyperpigmentation: causes and treatment.British Journal Of Dermatology,169, 41-56. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12536
  3. Nagapan, T., Lim, W., Basri, D., & Ghazali, A. (2019). Oral supplementation of L-glutathione prevents ultraviolet B-induced melanogenesis and oxidative stress in BALB/c mice.Experimental Animals,68(4), 541-548. doi: 10.1538/expanim.19-0017
  4. Madhu, K., Tejinder, K., Suresh K, M., & Uma, G. (2019). Estimation of serum copper, superoxide dismutase and reduced glutathione levels in melasma: a case control study.International Journal Of Scientific Research,8(5).
  5. Zanna, N. (2017). Evidence base and benefits associated with a collagen-based nutraceutical drink.Journal Of Aesthetic Nursing,6(3), 136-142. doi: 10.12968/joan.2017.6.3.136
  6. Robert A., S. (2016).74th Annual Meeting, American Academy of Dermatology. Washington DC. Retrieved from
  7. Handog, E., Datuin, M., & Singzon, I. (2015). An open-label, single-arm trial of the safety and efficacy of a novel preparation of glutathione as a skin-lightening agent in Filipino women.International Journal Of Dermatology,55(2), 153-157. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12999
  8. Arjinpathana, N., & Asawanonda, P. (2010). Glutathione as an oral whitening agent: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.Journal Of Dermatological Treatment,23(2), 97-102. doi: 10.3109/09546631003801619
  9. Feng, C., & Yan, M. (2018). Clinical observation on tranexamic acid combined with reduced glutathione for the treatment of chloasma.Pak J Pharm Sci.,6, 2823-2826.
  10. Podder, I., & Sarkar, R. (2017). Systemic therapy for melasma: Exploring newer options − A comprehensive review.Pigment International,4(2), 78. doi: 10.4103/2349-5847.219672
  11. Bagherani N, Gianfaldoni S, Smoller B (2015) An Overview on Melasma. Pigmentary Disorders, 2(216), doi:10.4172/2376-0427.1000216
  12. Zhao, H., Li, M., Zhang, X., Li, L., Yan, Y., & Wang, B. (2019). Comparing the efficacy of Myjet‐assisted tranexamic acid and vitamin C in treating melasma: A split‐face controlled trial.Journal Of Cosmetic Dermatology. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13112
  13. Pyun, H., Kim, M., Park, J., Sakai, Y., Numata, N., & Shin, J. et al. (2012). Effects of Collagen Tripeptide Supplement on Photoaging and Epidermal Skin Barrier in UVB-exposed Hairless Mice.Preventive Nutrition And Food Science,17(4), 245-253. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2012.17.4.245
  14. Hyun-Jun Lee, Hye-Lim Jang, Dong-Kyu Ahn, Hun-Jung Kim, Hee Young Jeon, Dae Bang Seo, Ji-Hae Lee, Jin Kyu Choi & Seok-Seong Kang (2019): Orally administered collagen peptide protects against UVB-induced skin aging through the absorption of dipeptide forms, Gly-Pro and Pro-Hyp, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, DOI: 10.1080/09168451.2019.1580559
  15. Melasma: Causes, symptoms, pictures, treatment. (2019). Retrieved 18 November 2019, from

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